Chris Watts looks more like an attractive actor than a lethal killer who slaughtered his pregnant wife and two young girls. The image of the picture-perfect, happy family shared on social media could not have been farther from the truth. Perhaps this is why we experienced such collective shock when we saw this tragic story unfold.
How could any man, let alone a seemingly normal husband and father, so brutally kill his entire family? Especially when this same family idolized and loved him so very much.
Chris Watts is not the first man to kill his family. This hard to imagine act is called familicide. Familicide is the act of murdering multiple close family members in quick succession. Often these men are deeply depressed and feel ashamed of themselves. They try to spare their family from imminent financial ruin or status loss and embarrassment. Other disappointed familicide killers want to punish the family for not living up to their grandiose ideas of family life. Half of these family annihilators attempt suicide after the crime. This is where Chris Watts is a bit of an anomaly. There is no evidence that he tried to kill himself after he murdered his family. Only a few hours after the murder, Chris Watt’s went on TV to plead for the safe return of his wife and children.
So, why would someone like Chris Watts, a man who appeared to have it all or at least more than enough, so callously kill his young, beautiful wife and adorable daughters? To understand this more, let’s delve a little deeper into the deadly mind of a family killer.
Chris' looks are deceiving. His psychopathic (Anti-Social ) mind interacted with the world in a much more convoluted and rageful way than his outer mask would ever reveal.
After writing, "Till Death Do Us Part, Love, Marriage and The Mind of the Killer Spouse," I described the various aspects of this type of disturbed and dysfunctional psyche.
Like most sociopaths/psychopaths, Chris' romantic relationships and the feelings of being “in love” was not experienced the way a healthy, well-adapted person falls in love.
Sociopaths enter romantic relationships based on an agenda. They always consider what they can get from others first. Men like Chris are not able to be intimate or express empathy or deep emotions. Given these emotional limitations, Watts was drawn to his wife Shanann, because he believed she could make him loved, healthy, normal and whole. He was not able to get these feelings on his own. He very likely thought Shanann could help him feel this way because she had this amazing ability to create an image of satisfaction and success. She also was madly in love with him.
We can assume that Shanann Watts had the capacity to make Chris' world look and feel magical; this worked for him for a period of time, until it no longer did. After some financial difficulties and other frustrations associated with family life, Chris' must have believed he had made a drastic mistake in marrying and having a family with Shanann. It became clear to him that she could not make him feel healthy, happy or whole.
As Chris found himself feeling increasingly more depressed, angry and trapped, he knew he needed to escape this life he had created for himself. This was what partially prompted his work affair/romance.
Perhaps this new relationship would be the answer to his problems. Maybe his new love would help him find the fulfillment he had been seeking. Chris lkely became convinced that not only did he marry the wrong woman but everything that came with and from this woman was wrong for him as well. The life he was living was not in sync with the special script he had envisioned for himself. He blamed his wife for his upset and failures, which quickly turned into an uncontrollable and murderous rage.
His reasoning was that the only solution to end his misery was to end his family. Divorce wouldn’t work because his family would still be there and a burden to him. They would still be around wanting something from him, nagging him and stopping him from living his new life. For Chris, the only solution was his family’s death.
Chris is a pathological narcissist and psychopath. All that matters to him are his own needs, his own sense of happiness and his own well-being. He has no sense of connection or feelings toward others, even his own blood. Anyone in the way of his goal was an obstacle that should not continue to exist.
Chris is also a blamer. He blames others for his failures and frustrations. He suppressed these emotions until the violence erupted. This time the target was his pregnant wife and two young daughters. In his tangled thinking, his family, all of them, was guilty, and since Chris blamed his wife and children for his own failings, they had to go.
Affected by his longtime depression, Chris believed his feelings of disappointment and rage would be gone as soon as he could get rid of his problem: his family. By killing Shanann and everything associated with her, their children, he believed his problems would be gone.
In Chris' very twisted mind, it was Shanann’s fault that his family didn’t work out. This proved to be even more of a reason for him to move forward with his life do-over plan. Chris believed he deserved more, and now he was going to get it. Chris' life frustrations and prolonged rage and despair interfered with his ability to cope, so his sick solution was murder.
His pathological self-absorption and self-centeredness got him to believe that he could get away with killing. His twisted belief made him feel that he deserved his freedom after everything he had put up with over the years.
The plan did not work. After trying to save himself by lying for as long as he could, the court found him guilty and sentenced him to life in prison without parole.
Chris' recent chilling “confession” gives us even more insight into his perverted mind. He shared the tale of heartlessly killing Shanann after making love to her, then telling her he didn’t love her and wanted to leave her before finally strangling her to death. He claims she didn’t even struggle and said It was like Shanann was praying, thinking of scripture and forgave him for doing it.
He also described being overtaken by an outside power that got him to compulsively kill his family; he retells the moment as if he was powerless over his impulses to overcome this heinous crime.
Chris Watts may not have been able to find his relevance in the real world, but seems to have found it in prison. In prison, Chris feels like an important man; the man he always thought he should be. He gets fan mail and love letters. His newly revealed confessions, after “finding God” are making him even more of a global star, albeit a notorious one. He is making his mark on history, so he thinks. His egotistical plan and sick need for distinction and recognition are finally being met. Criminality led to his celebrity.
A convoluted ending for this psychopathic killer who destroyed three beautiful and innocent lives as well as the life of his unborn child.